It is an irony that the Congress party to which former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao belonged did not think it necessary to honour his memory while its biggest rival the BJP has chosen to create a memorial for him in Delhi a decade after he passed away.
Indeed, the jury is not out yet on whether the NDA government has ordered a memorial for Rao to embarrass and spite the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress or it genuinely feels that he needed to be honoured for being the architect of economic reforms. So pathological was the Congress’ dislike of Rao that he was completely ignored in the naming of governmental schemes, of roads and of so many other official symbols of homage and rememberence.
So obsessed was the Congress with the Nehru-Gandhi family and so dismissive was it of others that it even rejected the idea of cremating Narasimha Rao in Delhi while it found an expanse of land to cremate Sonia Gandhi’s son Sanjay Gandhi whose only qualification was his dictatorial ways as an extra-constitutional authority during the Emergency of Mrs Indira Gandhi, his mother.
Earlier, the BJP had invoked Congressman Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who had so skilfully integrated the princely states into a unified India, after the Congress virtually ignored his fine contributions to making India strong and independent.
It is on record that the Congress did not allow Narasimha Rao’s body to be cremated in Delhi and chose to send it to his home state of Andhra Pradesh.
Indeed, Rao’s contribution was belittled unfairly as the man under whose term India brought in momentous economic reforms which pulled India from the brink of an economic catastrophe. Rao also was the first to foresee how vital it was to adopt a ‘Look East’ policy.
If there was one thing for which Rao can be blamed, however, it is that it was his inertia that was largely responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid, which became a permanent sore point with India’s Muslims .
Yet, all said and done, Narasimha Rao’s contribution to the country in the form of economic liberalization was too stupendous to be missed.
Whatever be the motivation behind the NDA honouring Rao, what it has done is indeed praiseworthy.